7 lifestyle tips for tinnitus - The Oto Guide 2021

Fatema M Dawoodbhoy

Oto Intern | 5th Year Medical Student
March 5, 2021

Welcome back to Oto. This guide marks the 10th edition of ‘The Oto Guide’ series. Today, we will address some general lifestyle tips that can help alleviate the negative effects tinnitus can have on day to day life. The presence of tinnitus in today’s society has become ubiquitous and it takes many different forms. Your tinnitus might be temporary or persistent, loud or soft, progressive or sudden. In a past Oto edition, we covered tinnitus treatments that have been known to reduce the intensity of the perceived tinnitus. This guide will offer more lifestyle advice and suggest some simple changes that you can make to continue enjoying life. 


Stress and anxiety

With the hustle and bustle of the 21st century, stress and anxiety can start to take over on a daily basis. It’s common to live a stressful and fast-paced life, and while that can be enjoyable to some, but this type of lifestyle could be the reason behind your tinnitus worsening or becoming more perceivable. We know that reducing stress and anxiety is far easier said than done, particularly without guidance on how to do it. Techniques such as breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation can help you relax and reduce some of the anxiety you might carry. Our guide on mindfulness for tinnitus explains in further detail how mindfulness plays its part in tinnitus. To ensure your week isn't just full of work, try and schedule in activities you enjoy such as:

  • Calling a friend
  • Doing puzzles
  • Reading books
  • Watching a movie
  • Starting a new hobby
  • Going for a walk
  • Baking some treats

Exercise 


The shutting of gyms due to COVID-19, has changed the way some of us exercise. We can no longer hit the warm gym but have been forced to brave the winter cold for a run or walk. Similarly to mindfulness, regular exercise (about 3-5 30-minute sessions a week) is a known stress buster and is generally a great way to boost your overall health. Exercising releases endorphins which are the brain’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. This doesn’t have to be intense exercise: if your tinnitus is causing you stress and anxiety, a simple walk to get those endorphins pumping can help alleviate tension. With spring coming upon us, use this beautiful weather as a motivation, watch those flowers blossom and the birds chirp!


Diet

While a definitive correlation between diet and tinnitus has not been found, people have found a correlation between their diet and their tinnitus symptoms. Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that have been linked to worsening tinnitus. However, each individual’s reaction to these foods are person-specific. If you believe your tinnitus is aggravated by specific foods or drinks, removing the troublemaker from your diet can help. You can try cutting out specific foods from your diet for a few weeks to see if they are linked to your tinnitus worsening. Try keeping a food diary as you do this, as it might well aid you in narrowing down the culprit. 

Pulsatile tinnitus is often closely connected to blood pressure. If you’ve been told this by a medical professional then lowering your blood pressure might make your tinnitus less noticeable. Alter your diet to include less salty foods, try removing alcohol, smoking and caffeine, and incorporate more regular exercise to see if it reduces the severity of your pulsatile tinnitus. 


Protect yourself

Excessively loud noises can damage your hearing and worsen tinnitus. It is imperative that you protect your ears when needed, as our eardrums are very sensitive. You could try listening to music or TV just a few notches lower. Wear protective headgear (like soundproof headphones) if blaring sounds are an occupational hazard but be careful to only wear hearing protection when it’s actually needed. It might be tempting to wear protective gear all the time but unfortunately, that won’t help your tinnitus and can have a negative impact on your lifestyle. Another common mistake is using earbuds incorrectly to clean our ears. If they’re used in the wrong way or too aggressively, it can cause damage to our interior ears. Becoming more aware of the importance of protecting your ears from any physical damage is an important part of caring for your hearing health and ensuring your tinnitus doesn’t worsen. 

Sleep 

Ensuring you have adequate rest to avoid fatigue is a good way to prevent the perceived worsening of your tinnitus in the day. However, we know that tinnitus can make it harder to sleep as the “ringing/buzzing/whistling/whooshing” in the quiet night can be very distracting and steal hours away from sleep. Sleep hygiene plays an integral role in your nighttime routine. Sleep hygiene refers to curating a sleep plan, allowing your body to get into a routine around bedtime each night. Sticking to this routine will not only create triggers and cues for your body to go to sleep at a certain time a day, but it will also put your body and mind into a more peaceful state before bed. Our guide on tinnitus sleep tips covers this in more detail. 


Background noise

Utilising background noise can be advantageous and can offer immediate tinnitus relief for some. It might seem counterintuitive to add more noise to your surroundings, but if you are in a quiet environment it could be making your tinnitus more noticeable, and simply turning on the radio or some background music can shift your focus away from your tinnitus (this is often called ‘masking’ your tinnitus). By having the sound at a level just slightly louder than your tinnitus, it can distract you from the “ringing/buzzing/whistling/whooshing” sounds associated with your tinnitus. There are many apps that offer sound libraries that act as tinnitus maskers. 


Support groups

You might feel isolated and alone, struggling with your tinnitus. The British Tinnitus Association offers support groups (now online), which will allow you the opportunity to engage with other people in the same situation as you. There are many people around the world who are also living with it. Speaking to others can help you learn about different or new coping strategies for your tinnitus that you might not have thought of before, and help you to understand that you are not alone. 

Can Oto help with my tinnitus?


Oto is a mobile app that brings together effective therapies into a progressive programme of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), targeted mindfulness, relaxation therapy and education. Oto will guide you through a combination of science-based therapy to help you better manage tinnitus and includes mindfulness exercises specifically targeted at reducing stress linked to worsening tinnitus. 

Oto has sessions that will help you sleep, whilst providing access to a growing collection of sleep stories to help you drift off. The app hosts a collection of carefully curated masks that you can use to relax or sleep, or just to provide some respite from your tinnitus sound at any point in your day. 

The Oto team consists of doctors, audiologists, therapists, voice artists, sound engineers and researchers, and has decades of experience in helping people with tinnitus as well as a first-hand insight into what it is to live with tinnitus day-to-day.


The Oto app brings together all the therapies known to be effective in tinnitus
Oto app interface

Download Oto now and try for free below. 



Bibliography

1.

Oto. Tinnitus Treatments: The Oto Guide 2020. [Online] www.joinoto.com. Available from: https://www.joinoto.com/post/tinnitus-treatments-the-oto-guide-2020

2.

Oto. Mindfulness For Tinnitus - How Does It Work? The Oto Guide 2020. [Online] www.joinoto.com. Available from: https://www.joinoto.com/post/mindfulness-for-tinnitus-how-does-it-work-the-oto-guide-2020

3.

British Tinnitus Assocaition. Online Support Groups. [Online] British Tinnitus Association. Available from: https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/online-support-groups

4.

Oto. Sleep tips for tinnitus - The Oto Guide 2021. [Online] www.joinoto.com. Available from: https://www.joinoto.com/post/sleep-tips-for-tinnitus-the-oto-guide-2021

5.

Oto. What Is A Tinnitus Masker? The Oto Guide 2020. [Online] www.joinoto.com. Available from: https://www.joinoto.com/post/what-is-a-tinnitus-masker-the-oto-guide-2020


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